A Date With Destiny

This weekend’s most desirable slice of gaming is doubtless to be the alpha test for Destiny on PS4. It puts the first entry of Bungie’s grand new Sci-Fi odyssey into the hands of gamers for the first time, so that they might get a taste of what they can expect later in the year, for both the full game and the beta test.

While we’ll have more in depth coverage from the alpha over the next few days, coming from those who have spent much more time with the game than I, we wanted to give some preliminary impressions on what the game is like to play. On offer in the alpha are the Strike mode and the competitive multiplayer of the Crucible, giving two contrasting sides of the game an airing in public. While the multiplayer will doubtless be a big part of the game for the community, it’s the co-operative play that I found to be the more interesting and more revealing.

At its heart, this is an action RPG, but one which has been blended with a first person shooter, so that the simplest comparison would be to the Borderlands games. Enemies have health bars hovering over their heads, for example, while numbers fly off the enemies as your bullets hit them and deal damage.

– ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW –

Destiny-E3P1-IL1

Parallels can also easily be drawn to the co-operative focus of Borderlands, though here we see three central archetypes or classes – Warlock, Hunter and Titan – rather than four. That threesome comes together in the three man fire teams that the game has been designed around, and it’s clear that playing with two others is going to be the best way to experience the game.

A key part is simply having the support of other players to pick you up off the floor when you are incapacitated, or hide from enemies so that you can respawn on your own and rejoin the fray. This dynamic primarily comes into play during the larger encounters, with lesser enemies of the Fallen faction, who can be dispatched by a few bullets, bolstered by the appearance of their shielded Captains, who will try to hide and recharge their shields, much as you will do with your own recharging health bar.

However, even the Captains can be killed quickly and efficiently with certain tactics; throwing a grenade in will drain their shields to leave them vulnerable, while you can always break out your heavy weapon for greater damage. It’s the bosses which will really take the most work to take down, and it took several gruelling minutes of shooting the Devil Walker’s highlighted weak spots, dealing with other Fallen and frequently reviving downed team mates before we could finally defeat it.

The world that has been built around this familiar gameplay is also very, very different. This is a more straight-laced Sci-Fi universe, with a grand story of ending humanity’s plight and the hopeful reemergence out from under The Traveller’s protection. Though there are still many thematic ties to the likes of the Halo universe and even back to Marathon, this is to be a new story entirely.

Destiny-E3P1-IL2

Bungie has long been an expert with the multiplayer portion of their games and Destiny’s Crucible seems to continue that strong heritage. However, in this 6 vs. 6 battle, you take the characters that you have created and customised through playing the story and Strike missions into battle against another team of Guardians.

Taking those same characters and gameplay mechanics lends it a somewhat more considered and slower pace than a typical twitch shooter. Certainly, the shields are lenient enough that you can try to turn the tables on your assailant or try to make good an escape from their line of sight.

You’re also very mobile and agile, with the double jump actually giving you a few seconds of jetpack thrust to get you up to a high vantage point. This is then further bolstered on larger maps which feature vehicles, as well as allowing you to summon your own customised speeder bike-like Sparrow to help you get around quickly.

In truth, I barely scratched the surface of what the alpha has to offer, let alone the final game, in my brief hands on time at E3. Yet, they showed two facets of the game which seems to have a lot of depth, as well as the potential to grab a hold of gamers’ collective imaginations and see Bungie embark on a grand new saga.

– PAGE CONTINUES BELOW –

33 Comments

  1. Got a code for the alpha yesterday, and by the time the download finished, it was far too late in the evening for that sort of shenanigans.

    So obviously I went to bed much later than planned.

    It’s lots of fun. Definitely a hint of Borderlands to it. Some nice spots on map to stop and admire the scenery (of which there appears to be too much – seems to go on forever).

    Love the Nova Bomb thing (the R1+L1 power which is probably completely different if you’re not a Warlock).

    But those load times! If you’re going to be spending a lot of time going back and forth between various maps and that hub place, that’s going to get annoying. And they rub it in by giving you a 3 second countdown before your ship launches. Still time for those times to be reduced, I hope.

    I’d pre-order it to get beta access, but that depends on if they fix those loading times, and if they’re going to wipe everything after the beta. Which I’d imagine it’s about 99% certain they will do.

  2. I’m not too sure what to make of it yet. It seems to rely heavily on playing with others, yet I couldn’t work out anything to do with the party system when I played last night. There are random players around but none seem interested in anything other than running off, therefore on my lonesome the missions just seemed to be “go here, kill these”.

    The tactile elements of game play such as how it feels to move and shoot felt great, but I just can’t see how it’s going to hold my attention for more than a few hours.

    Perhaps it’s because the Alpha is very barebones, and doesn’t explain much of anything as a result, bit I just didn’t feel like there was any reason for me to be doing anything besides grinding for XP.

    • I found that the other players in the game world just killed any immersion (spinning round shooting into the air). Seems that the story might play out similarly to how Titanfall handled it, basically multiplayer matches/co-op quests with some narrative.

      It is definitely not an epic RPG a-la mass effect, feels more like an MMO to be honest.

    • Give it time, and I suspect there may be more than just a handful of random players about.

      The co-op mission seemed to work well though. Stuck me with 2 other random people and we all seemed to know what we were up to. Even running across to revive each other when that boss was killing everyone in a single shot. Seriously, you need to spread out on that fight. Don’t stand too close to each other, or you’ll all go down at once. A good tactic in general too, it seems. All charge in together, and you’ll be in trouble. Spread out and get them in the face and behind.

      But yes, there’s not a huge lot to the alpha. No story there, really. 1 mission, and a co-op mission. Plus the “explore” mission. Run around finding lots of little missions from beacons, some of which neatly send you to a high spot to gather data. So you can stand there admiring the scenery.

      And one MP mode with 2 maps.

      Looks like you can do missions again on a higher difficulty too. Might make any XP grinding a bit more fun.

  3. This is the game I’ve most been looking forward to this year. So I’m interested to hear what you all are making of it.

    May finally push me to get a PS4…

    • It’s on PS3, and the graphics aren’t really the best you will see on PS4 anyway (although does look sharp and highly detailed in most places). That said, I definitely wouldn’t want to put you off getting a PS4 lol.

      • The graphics do the job. Looks reasonably nice, and outside areas seem to go on for ever. It does, however, look a bit clean for my liking. As if they spent a lot of time building a nice looking world with lots of little details in, and then couldn’t face messing it up a bit and not showing it off.

        And some dodgy particle effects. I think it might be supposed to be snow, but I’m not entirely sure.

      • Oh, I know its on PS3 also. But its the first game since the PS4’s release that I could realistically see myself putting 100+ hours into. In other words, long enough for the really good stuff thats coming early next year :P

        But then I could play on PS3 and transfer any progress.

        Gah, now I’m back to being undecided! >.<

        I have friends with both systems. Can I play with the same account on PS3 and PS4 at the same time!?!

  4. Also, Peter Dinklage. Tyrion Lannister (although he’s obviously been in a lot of other things).

    And is that Lance Reddick? From the excellent Fringe?

    • The guy who was the boss? Yes I spotted his voice.

      • Yes, he was Broyles in Fringe. And a bit creepy in Lost. And recently, completely deranged as Papa Legba in American Horror Story.

    • He’s in Intelligence too.
      Was I the only person to keep saying “HELLO DAVE!” whenever he appeared in American Horror Story? (completely different Papa, but very similar)

      • It’s the hat, isn’t it? Which might or might not be traditional. (But it’s probably cheaper to stick a hat on an actor than horns, which is the other option available)

        Papa Legba is just a sort of Voodoo Secretary. He decides if you can speak to spirits or not.

        Papa Lazarou is a weird freak with many “wives”, all called Dave. Supposedly based on a landlord of one of the League of Gentlemen (can’t remember which one), and not any voodoo character.

    • That’s 1 character already cast if the yanks ever decide to remake (or ruin if you prefer) The League of Gentlemen ;)

  5. Tef’s alive! Hallelujah.

  6. Just played half an hour or so and turned it off, bored to tears.

    I’ll give it another go later, but the game so far has been move around huge level, find waves of identical enemies, shoot them for a bit, find slightly tougher but identical enemies, shoot them for a longer bit and repeat ad nauseum.

    Can’t imagine myself paying for this game if it continues in this vein.

    • Completely agree unless I’m missing something. I’ll give it another go as everyone seems to be raving about it but I found it boring as well. I played a little longer the first mission didn’t take to long but as you said find enemy shoot move on. However next mission after spending sometime in the tower took longer. The first boss the devil thing took an age and it was a case of shoot go and hide to regain health and then shoot its legs some more same with next boss the sphere by this time it was 2am and I had work the next day so left it there. I’m not convinced on the AI either unless legend makes them smarter, if it only makes them tougher to kill then hmmm not sure I’ll come back for more.

      • It’s the curse of the action RPG roots, I’m afraid, and a big reason why I couldn’t get into the Borderlands games.

        It seems to me that the bosses are the main point of bullet sponging, with huge health bars and weak spots that will take a long time to kill. Below that, it’s a similar dynamic to the Grunts and Elites in Halo, with the lesser enemies going down very easily and the Captains having shields. For me, that’s the key to staving off my BL blues, if it sticks to being a Halo-sequence shooter outside of the big boss battles.

        But, as with any game, it’s not going to be all things to all gamers.

      • The enemies, art style and guns are more fun in Borderlands from the little I’ve seen of Destiny though, and most enemies are not such bullet sponges.

  7. Bonus points for use of the DS4’s lightbar too. Playing in a dark room last night, find a dark part of the game (going up the stairs after the big ambush), character’s torch comes on, and the DS4 lights up the whole room as well.

    Just a neat little touch that I liked.

  8. Played it last night and I really, really liked it. Some co-op action this weekend so expect a report early next week.

    • I must be missing something then……..

      • I was playing on the explorer mode this morning, various people jumping in and out of the game, and then me and Tuffcub were doing some of the side missions – and whilst TC made the double jump look easy, I was flabbergasted to find I couldn’t do a jet jump after jumping of my bike – Youtube will now just be full of good kills in Destiny, and not sharp moves from a jet bike.

        Destiny, I am appalled.

        Other than that I really enjoyed it, and although there are a few things that are a bit hit and miss, the part of the game world that’s shown in the beta is quite big

  9. I’ll just copy and paste what i wrote in the forums….

    “So i played about 5 hours last night. I lost track of time which i think is a testament to how good it is, even if it is an Alpha. I’ve reached the level limit they’ve placed on it (level 8), and I’ve finished all of the missions they allowed in the Alpha. Only thing left really is playing PvP which isn’t as fun as you’d think it’d be.

    From what I’ve played, I think it’s safe to say this will be a Day 1 purchase for me.”

  10. Played it this afternoon and thought it was really good, until I tried the multi-player. There was no “A key part is simply having the support of other players to pick you up off the floor when you are incapacitated” all my team mates just went off on there own leaving me to die every few 30 secs or so.

Comments are now closed for this post.